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HAS LONDON SKI SHOW FOUND ITS PLACE? - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Sunday October 30, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

It has been forced to re-invent itself from the apparent golden years of yesteryear as visitor numbers have fallen, exhibitors pulled out and the world has moved on. PlanetSKI gives this year's show a big, but qualified, thumbs up.

The London Show has needed to find its place in more ways than one.

It has been going for more than 40 years but its very existence is under threat.

First there is the geographical place it needs to find as its traditional homes of Earls Court and Olympia have either been pulled down or deemed not fit for purpose.

But secondly, and more importantly, is its place in the ever-changing modern world.

The overall number of British people skiing has fallen by around 20% since 2008 so the market is shrinking significantly.

The world has moved on from the Show being one giant shop where people came to hear about all that is new in snowsports - the digital world means people book their holidays and buy their clothing and equipment in a different way.

There used to be ski shows in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London with many other shows in smaller towns such as Brighton.

Now in the UK it is down to just one - the London Show.

Last year had just 25,000 visitors - down from 35,000 the previous year.

It may be exaggerating to say that this year, 2016, was the make or break year, but if the show had seen another similar drop in visitor numbers then the axe would likely have been wielded on London too.

Instead numbers are up more than 20%, taking the overall total past 30,000.

It is growing again.

Inside the ShowInside the Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge sighs of relief have been breathed this weekend by all the people associated with the show.

"We always knew this year would be better as we have scheduled it for the half-term holidays and we have been sharper with our pricing and pre-sales deals where we saw a 38% rise.  But most importantly the thing completely outside our control, the weather, has been kind," said the man in overall charge of the show, Damian Norman, as we chatted over a beer on the eve of the last day.

But the details of the Show are decided by Lindsey Guy, the manager of the Show who makes the final decisions and should claim the credit for its development.

"We have made huge efforts to enhance the visitor experience from the moment they walk in and come into an alpine village setting. They see an ice rink, a real snow slope, an après ski bar and chalet-style wooden stands. They get in the mood for winter," said Lindsey.

"The mezzanine area inside is open to all, rather than just VIPs and those wanting Michelin-starred food like last year," Lindsey added.

Once again the PlanetSKI team has been at the Show across all 4 days - enjoying all that is on offer and keeping our ears to the ground.

We have canvassed the opinion of the public and exhibitors, from those here for the first time to those who have been coming to the London Show for more years than they care to recall.

We detail some of their opinions later in this article.

Our news and features reporter, Katie Bamber, was first in the queue as the doors opened on Thursday.

Our chief reporter, Jane Peel, has been following the sporting action on Mount Battersea and also looked back at the Show's 43-year history.

So, what is the reaction of the people that really matter - the paying public.

"I haven't been to a ski show for more than a decade and was very pleasantly surprised.  The outside area is for fun and relaxing, while the inside is open and yet cosy and not like the old days of the cavernous exhibition spaces of Earls Court and Olympia," said Carol.

"I came here to try to buy some skis but was rather disappointed as there is very little on offer. Snow+Rock is just a display area and Ellis Brigham isn't even here," said Joanne.

"I haven't really been inside where the stalls are as the action is so good outside with the après ski bar and the kicker with some of our best GB riders stomping it on the slope," said Jonny.

"Loving it!" said Max.

Flying highFlying high

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apres ski London-styleApres ski London-style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was also grumblings that there were very fews deals and bargains to be had.

People who paid £22 for a single adult pass expected some deals around to offset the cost of entrance.

There were a few, but not many.

 

Some deals to be had...Some deals to be had...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retail is one area that needs to be worked on and improved.

A few years ago many people complained that the show was just one giant shop - now it seems to have gone the other way with not enough shops selling clothing and gear. 

People want to buy - whether it be skis, boots or clothing and many felt there wasn't enough on offer this time round.

"I came here to buy a helmet and was surprised by the lack of choice and when I eventually found one I liked, then they didn't have it in my size," said Susan.

"I want to see the new boards for next season but they are just not here," said another.

Some of the retailers that are at the Show have been doing brisk business.

Perhaps because the others aren't here.

The independent retailer, Finches, has been around since 1947 and has been coming to the Show for more than 30 years.

"Back in the day people came from afar afield as Wales and Cornwall for the London Show. Those days have gone as many people buy their equipment and book their holidays online, but this time the show has been fabulous. We have sold almost 90 pairs of boots over the 4 days of the Show and have been absolutely flat out," said Angela Finch.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow+Rock

"We didn't come last year but decided to do so this year not so much for sales, but rather to boost our brand and image. It has also been very good just to engage and chat with our customers. It has been an up and down Show in some ways with busy periods and quiet ones, but Saturday was really good and we will certainly look at coming back next year," said the marketing manager of Snow+Rock, Inga Taylor.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Inga Taylor; London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The company ski-mojo makes supporting leg braces for skiers.

"We sold more product on Saturday alone than we did across the whole of last year's Show," said Rob from the company.

And what about the other exhibitors?

Warren Smith Ski Academy

"This is the best show in a decade not just in the volume of people we have had at our stand but in what they have been telling us about their experience at the Show. The split between indoors and outdoors is brilliant and if we can get 3 or 4 shows like this behind us then in a few years we could really begin to see some growth back in the UK snowsports scene," said Warren Smith.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Warren Smith: London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MPI Brokers.

"I have come to every single ski show in its 43-year history and this has been brilliant.  We have had some very good enquiries and most people seem to like the location and the atmosphere. I have laid on free golf buggies to take people from the edge of the park to the Show as there is a ten minute walk and people have been coming up to thank us for the ride!" said Michael Pettifer.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Michael Pettifer: London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the show's main sponsors, with the biggest stand, is Norway, Home of Skiing.

"It has been really, really good this year and well worth the investment. I am here to promote the brand of Norway rather than sell holidays but we have been able to do both," said Trevor de Villiers, from Norway - Home of Skiing.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Trevor de Villiers: London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kicking Horse Powder Tours.

"We had Eddie the Eagle here to promote our joint holiday to Canada next winter and he loved the show and thought it had a real vibe. Hundreds queued up to meet him and then we had a photo opportunity atop of our land Rover," said Richard Barker from Kicking Horse Powder Tours.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Eddie and Richard: London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ongosa

"We have never exhibited at the London Show so it was a bit of a leap of faith but we have been very pleasantly surprised with some good enquires about our product where we help people find instructors and mountain guides, and there has just been a good and positive atmosphere," said Richard Smith from Ongosa.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Richard Smith: London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North Americans were noticeable for their absence.

In the past there was a Canadian Village with the best resorts Canada had to offer.

Vail Resorts, the biggest ski resort operator in the world used to be in London promoting Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Heavenly and Park City, amongst others.

Not anymore.

The cult resort of Jackson Hole was at the London show this year.

"We are not here to sell holidays as such, but we are here to tell people about one of the best ski areas in North America and that is of great value to us," said a spokesman for the resort, Dave Ashmore.

London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016Dave Ashmore: London Ski & Snowboard Show, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what about the future?

"Of course we need to sort out a few details but we reckon the formula is about right from what we have heard from the public and the exhibitors. Have we found the right formula? Yes I think we have," said Damian Norman to me as the Show closed.

In the next couple of years the surrounding area in Battersea sees huge changes based around the re-developemnt of Battersea Power Station.

There will be 20,000 residential developments and 20,000 office desks.

And not just any old office desks - Apple is having its European base here and the American Embassy moves in.

The surrounding area is on the rise and the show hopes to tap into that.

There are plans afoot to tweak parts of the show but essentially this is it.

There will be no more radical moves - either geographically or in what it offers.

Has the new-look London Ski & Snowboard Show found its place?

Here at PlanetSKI we reckon it has.

We're looking forward to 2017 already.

But one request from us ....can we have some more live music please?

The London Ski & Snowboard Show 2016The London Ski & Snowboard Show 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The show also had a number of industry events and launches that we covered on PlanetSKI.

From the World Snow Awards, to the launching of a new interactive web site by Iglu Ski. 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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